For years I’ve done all the grooming on our dogs. The last year or so my wife has begun to help since it can be quite a task on me. But she won’t touch toenail clippers; she doesn’t even like to be home when it’s that time. Why? Because of the risk of cutting the nail too short, into the quick, and causing it to bleed. It is at least slightly painful to the dog and fairly stressful for them and you. The bleeding, depending on the dog and the cut, may stop fairly quickly and easily by holding pressure on it with a cotton cloth or the like. But more often than not its good to take more than that to stop the bleeding; thankfully the pain seems to stop long before the blood.
Although I’ve done this for years (I was a manager at a pet store in my early 20’s and cut a lot of cat and dog nails and trimmed more than a few bird nails and beaks) I still am a bit apprehensive about cutting my dogs nails despite my experience doing it. Even though I hate to hurt any animal, I really hate to cause pain to my own “fur kids”! Usually I can accomplish the task without incident but there are still the occasional mishaps, like happened this week, prompting this post.
Before I go any further I want to make a couple of points.
- If you are not comfortable doing this don’t do it! Pay a professional to do it for you; you’ll save yourself more in stress and angst than the monetary cost.
- I am not claiming I invented this idea. I came up with it and have been using it for years. But that doesn’t mean someone else hasn’t had the same (bright) idea.
- I only use scissor-style clippers. The guillotine-style are more apt to crush/break the nail making main or bleeding an even greater risk.
There are products on the market made specifically to stop the bleeding caused my cutting into the quick (or there were years ago). When I worked at the pet store we sold and used styptic powder. It is essentially a powdered form of the styptic pencil men (and women I reckon) use to stop the bleeding after they cut themselves while shaving; the pencil burns – I know from my own use – so I assume the powder does, too, though it only does so for a short time.
One day at the pet shop I cut the quick on on of our puppies whose nails I was trimming. We happened to be out of styptic powder, both in our grooming supplies and on the shelves. And this pup would not stop bleeding no matter how long we help pressure on it or what we used to do so. Suddenly I had an idea: Superglue! It was used in combat situations to close wounds and by sports trainers so why not try it on the pup?
After a quick walk down a few storefronts (we were in a shopping mall) to a dollar store I brought the superglue back to where the pup was and got ready to try out my idea. I cleaned the blood off with a clean paper towel and then applied one drop of the glue on the tip of the bleeding nail. I then quickly applied pressure to the glue with a cotton ball for about 20 seconds. After the short wait I gently peeled the cotton ball off, leaving a small piece “glued” to the end of the nail. No more bleeding! The idea had worked just as I’d hoped. And I’ve been using it for 20+ years since.There are a couple more points to keep in mind when using this tip.
- Be prepared. Have the superglue and a cotton ball or three ready, at your disposal, in case you need them. If you’re not ready you’ll end up in a frenzy, searched for the needed supplies, and cause yourself and your dog more anxiety.
- Have the glue tube opened and be cautious as you do this. Gluing your finger to the dog is not as fun as it sounds. Funny, yes; fun, no.
- Superglue dries in the absence of oxygen by a chemical reaction (feel free to search the interwebs if you want to know more the specific details of the reaction). This reaction produces heat so only use as little as you habit to; one or two drops should be plenty. I once accidentally got a big glob on my thumb and then squeezed my index finger against it and this produced a lot of heat, enough to hurt and leave a blister! So, again, use it sparingly.
- Use regular superglue, not gel. The gel, I my experience, is easier to over apply and makes more heat.
- And buy a brand name; you don’t want to “chance” how a generic brand may react, not working well or worse causing more heat reaction, and possible pain.
As with any first aid-type situation it’s better to have the needed items (and know how to use them) and never need them than to need them just once and not have them (or know how/be prepared to use them).
I hope this idea and article are helpful to you. If you choose to cut your pet’s nails there’s a good chance you’ll have occasion to use it.
Thankfully I have not cut to the quick before but it is good to be prepared. Nice post Greg, very useful.
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Thanks, Melissa! I’ve been reading some articles with the Blogging 101 course and it inspired me to post something totally different from what I normally write. Glad you found it interesting and I hope you never need the info!